Legion is the second movie in so many weeks with a theme riddled with supposed religious overtones (The Book of Eli being the other). Instead, however, of delving into the way spiritual power can lift the hopes of the downtrodden, first time director Scott Stewart’s vehicle delves into how the power of God can be merciless and crush. Everything.
And to be clear, I don’t mean crush in a sissified, hurt feelings kind of way. I mean crush in the manner a military wipes out an unprepared and underarmed foe kind of way. Throngs of the possessed, armed with supernatural powers, want to clear the earth of humankind. Praise be to God that archangel Michael (Paul Bettany), with his duffel bags full of armaments, is here to help save our unprepared asses.
Oh, wait a second . . . it’s God who wants the Earth cleared and our savior, Michael, has struck out on his own accord, convinced God doesn’t really want to start His experiment all over again? Yeah, we’re fucked if that is the case. At the center of the bullet barrage is the unborn child of a simple waitress named Charlie (Adrianne Palicki). It turns out he is the key to the survival of the human race and, at all costs, God doesn’t want him born. Legion has the makings of a good ‘ole shoot ’em up splatfest.
Yet for reasons only known to the writers of Legion (Peter Schink and Scott Stewart), there is a lot of unneeded character fluff added — in one scene Charles S. Dutton, in his typical preachy role, tries to reach out and understand the questionable choices made by tough guy Tyrese Gibson. Pretty much all those held up at the desert roadside diner (Dutton, Gibson, Palicki, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Kate Walsh, and Willa Holland) have some form of an epiphany between the waves of too few onslaughts. I suppose it is only right, considering the end of days is upon them, but is there room in the 100 minute running time to give us enough to remotely care about these people? Not really; plus it tends to be of the mindless variety that drags the movie into neutral when it wants to be going full speed.
Muddling things up further is Stewart’s use of lighting, or should I say the lack thereof. Much of the film takes place in the dark and the camera angles employed during these times aren’t exactly the best to capture the fast paced action. Foreboding, yes; the ability to see what in the hell is going on, no. Let’s chalk this faux pas up to a rookie mistake.
Actually, there are plenty of rookie and veteran mistakes all around which ultimately keep Legion stuck between outrageousness and mawkishness. It never quite figures out what it wants to be. The biggest misstep in my opinion: Where is Satan in all this? Surely, with the wrath of God coming down upon His children, there would be opportunities a plenty to swallow up some souls or to twist a thorn in God’s side over (maybe take the side of man?). Perhaps in the sequel, of which this movie eludes may come, he’ll make an appearance.
Then again, I don’t think I care enough if he does.